Tabor recalls 2023 budget presentation and says hike in sales tax is a promise broken

The United Progressive Party (UPP) is accusing the Gaston Browne
Administration of breaking its promise by its decision to increase
the rate of the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST).
Come 2024, the Administration intends to increase the sales tax by 2
percent – reportedly to meet financial obligations, including salary
increases to public servants.
Therefore, the ABST will move from 15 to 17 percent, and this is
expected to be confirmed on December 15, when Finance Minister
Gaston Browne presents the budget for next year.

Damani Tabor, the UPP public relations officer, accuses the
Administration of being uncaring and wicked.

He recalls that, in the 2023 Budget Presentation, Browne promised
that there would be more efficient tax collection, thereby reducing
the need to impose any new taxes or increase the existing ones.
Further, instead of reducing waste, as promised, Tabor says the
Administration appears to have spent money wantonly, as was
evident ahead of the St. Mary’s South by-election.
The public relations officer says the UPP sympathizes with the plight
of small businesses, since the Government owes many of them large
sums – with no agreement for set-offs to alleviate their hardship.
He advises the Browne Administration to prioritize collection from
the larger businesses, as this is the obvious place to start in order to
increase revenue.

Meanwhile, Tabor says there is no excuse for the prime minister’s
refusal to investigate the leakage of revenue and close all the tax
It is Browne’s refusal to move on the matter that is allowing the
current low collection to continue, Tabor says; and, ironically, the
prime minister is now using low collection as the excuse for raising
In fact, the UPP spokesman says, it has been reported that only 49
percent of the ABST is now collected.

Prime Minister Browne, during the 2023 budget presentation, had
also promised that the practice of exchanges at the Customs
Department would be discontinued – except in extraordinary cases.